ARB Has New Chairman, Design Standards

BLYTHEWOOD – Tuesday night the Architectural Review Board elected a new chairman, Michael Langston, a resident of Cobblestone Park. Dr. Curtis Brown of Ashley Oaks was elected vice chairman.

Michael Criss, the Town’s planning consultant, updated the ARB members on the new design standards that were recently adopted by Council as part of the new Town Center zoning text amendment. Criss said one of the major changes is that, while in the past, the ARB only had review authority over commercial buildings and major improvements in the Town, under the new zoning ordinance, the ARB will have review authority over all buildings in the Town Center district, including residences.

Criss said that the architectural and other design standards in the new zoning text amendment would apply to all new land uses, new construction and major improvements within the Town Center District. The ordinance defines major improvements as any repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction, addition or other improvement of a building or structure which, in the aggregate, costs 50 percent or more of the assessed value for property tax purposes (not including land) before the improvements. Town Administrator John Perry explained that Town Hall would keep tract of successive improvements of the buildings in order to determine if the aggregate costs amounted to 50 percent or more.

Criss said the new Town Center design standards will dictate a number of design changes such as the prohibition of mansard roofs which are less expensive but don’t look as good as other roof designs. He said that over the course of the next seven years, minimum height requirements for new construction of frontage buildings on certain roads in the town will increase to three stories.

Building facades on new construction are to be built next to sidewalks, with driveways and parking to the side and rear.

Blythewood Road and Wilson Boulevard (Highway 21, also called Main Street in the town) are slated to be widened to 95-feet, which will amount to an increase of 6- to 12-feet outside current right of ways. Perry said that once these right of ways are mapped, the Town must be ready to purchase them all. Asked by Langston about the expense of such purchases, Perry said there are some methods that make acquiring right of way more affordable.

Perry announced that two or three members from each of the town boards would be taking a field trip to Baxter and Davidson, N.C. to look at architecture. He also reminded the board members about the Town’s planning retreat March 22 and 23 at the Doko Manor which he said would be operational by March 1.